Brits, buyers do thriller dance

EFM entries bulk up budgets with UKFC bucks

More Berlinale coverage

BERLIN -- British thrillers are all the rage both here at the European Film Market and with financiers back in blighty.

The U.K. Film Council, which hosted its annual Berlin brunch Tuesday morning, is pumping north of 3 million pounds ($4.4 million) into a trio of thrillers including Daniel Barber's Michael Caine starrer "Harry Brown." Barber's directorial debut has not only attracted Caine, it's secured just over 1 million pounds ($1.5 million) from the Council's Premiere Fund.

Billed as an urban western set in modern day Britain, it details the story of a retired Marine and widower who is compelled to dispense his own justice after his best friend is murdered. Caine plays the marine while David Bradley is his murdered friend.

The cast also includes Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles and Liam Cunningham. Gary Young wrote the script for the film, which is being produced by Kris Thykier, Matthew Vaughn and Keith Bell. Produced by U.K. production bannner MARV production, it also has backing from Prescience and FX house Framestore.

U.K.-based sales and finance house HanWay is handling all international sales on the film and Lionsgate has snapped up U.K. rights to the title.

Another HanWay title to benefit from Council cash is artist-turned-director Sam Taylor-Wood's John Lennon biopic "Nowhere Boy." Taylor-Wood's movie will get 1.2 million pounds ($1.8 million) from the premiere fund, having already secured 35,500 pounds ($52,447) from the Council's development cashpool.

Newcomer Aaron Johnson plays the young Lennon opposite BAFTA winner Kristin Scott Thomas as Lennon's aunt Mimi, while Anne-Marie Duff takes the role of his mother Julia.

Written by "Control" scribe Matt Greenhalgh, the movie is produced by Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae for Ecosse Films and Kevin Loader.

It is backed by Film4, NorthWest Vision and Media, Lip Sync Prods. and Aver Media.

HanWay Films has pre-sold multiple territories including Icon for the U.K. and Australia and Mars Distribution for France.

Stephen Poliakoff's "1939," a return to the big screen after an absence of more than 10 years for the theater writer-director, is getting 970,000 pounds ($x million) from the Premiere coffers.

Billed as a tense psychological thriller, Poliakoff's film is set between the present day and the murky world of political intrigue in England just before the outbreak of World War II.

The cast reads like a who's who of actors and includes Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, Christopher Lee, Eddie Redmayne, Juno Temple, David Tennant, Charlie Cox and Jeremy Northam. The film has completed shooting on location in Norfolk and London and is a talkbackTHAMES production in association with Magic Light Pictures, funded by BBC Films and Screen East Content Investment Fund. "1939" also marks the first film to receive financing from Quickfire Films, in collaboration with The Works Media Group. The U.K.'s Momentum Pictures snapped up local rights to the title from The Works.

Said Premiere fund chief Sally Caplan: "These are three very different and unique projects which all have contemporary relevance to audiences today and we are very pleased to be backing each of them."
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